Sixth Asian Studies Conference Japan
    Saturday and Sunday, June 22-23
    Ichigaya Campus of Sophia University


last update 2002/03/09

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Contact the organizers: Asian Studies Conference (ASCJ) c/o Institute of Asian Cultural Studies, International Christian University 3-10-2 Osawa, Mitaka-shi, Tokyo 181


Session 6
Manchu-Han Relations in the Qing
Organizer: Christopher Isett, University of Minnesota
Chair: Tatsuo Nakami, Tokyo University of Foreign Studies

In recent years revisionist scholarship of Manchu-Han relations and ethnic identity in the Qing has changed the way we think of the Qing empire, its ruling ethnic elite, and the question of Manchu sinicization. This panel explores these themes from three standpoints-the imperial court, city, and countryside-demonstrating that how one understands questions of ethnic identity and relations in the Qing depends to a considerable extent upon how the questions are problematized. The nature of Manchu-Han relations varies considerably when we compare and contrast the ruling Manchu elite, banner garrisons, and rusticated banner communities because we are dealing with quite distinct socio-political elements within both Manchu and Han society. A significant part of this variation relates to questions of power (the power to manipulate representations and ideology, the power to establish and manipulate ethnic identities, and the power to assert and 'normalize' particular practices) and how different portions of the Manchu population acquired/lost and used/abused these powers in their relations with the Han.

1) Michael Chang, George Mason University. "A Ruler on Horseback: the Southern Tours and the Historical Transformation of High Qing Ethno-Dynastic Authority"

The purpose of this paper is to demonstrate that one of the Qianlong court's ideological objectives in reviving the practice of imperial touring, especially in the Lower Yangzi delta, was to reassert its ethno-dynastic prerogatives in ruling over China proper. In this paper I examine the practice of horseback riding during the Southern Tours in order to trace an ideological transformation and historical extension of Manchu ethno-dynastic claims to leadership in the sphere of civil governance. In its largely unsuccessful attempts to police the boundaries of a reified ethnic identity, the Qianlong court seized upon horseback riding as an ethnically particular (i.e., Manchu) practice that simultaneously indicated and inculcated traits of martial prowess and vigor. However, the notion of "ruling from horseback" also took on new meanings during the Qianlong emperor's Southern Tours. While on tour, the Qianlong emperor also projected horseback riding as an ethnically specific manifestation of a more universalistic (read: more familiarly "Chinese") principle of administrative activism in carrying out benevolent civil governance. This universal principle was couched in a canonical idiom of "observing and being observed by the people" (guanmin). As such, the practice of riding on horseback during the Southern Tours effected an ideological reiteration of imperial authority as being both "meta-ethnic" (universalistic) and specifically Manchu (particularistic) at the same time. A ruler on horseback stood as the central trope of a High Qing political spectacle that preserved the dynasty's "ethnic sovereignty" without undermining its broader claims to rule over a multiethnic empire, including China-proper and the Lower Yangzi region.

2) Lipin Wang, University of Minnesota. "The Local and the National: The Case of the Hangzhou Banner Garrison"

This paper aims to historicize the Manchu-Han relationship during the Qing through investigating the relationship between the Hangzhou banner garrison and the city at large. Instead of seeing ethnic tension existed constantly throughout the Qing period, this paper demonstrate that in Hangzhou the Manchu-Han relationship evolved from conquest in early Qing, to peaceful co-existence in mid-Qing, and to racial conflicts in the late Qing. In this major center of Han culture, the Taiping Rebellion did not mark the beginning of anti-Manchu consciousness rather it heightened the sense of the garrison being accepted as part of Hangzhou city. I examine the issue of Manchu identity from the perspective of the localization and urbanization of provincial banner communities from the mid seventeenth century to the eighteenth century. By the beginning of the nineteenth century, there was little unified and abstract "bannermen," rather the garrison became a distinctive community that was recognized as part of the larger urban community of Hangzhou. It was during the last decade of Qing, along with the rapid rise of Han nationalism that the "Manchu question" was nationalized and abstracted and began to be perceived in racial terms. At the particular historical moment of 1911, bannermen were denied membership in the imagined national community and being forced to identify with the Manchu dynasty.

3) Christopher M. Isett, University of Minnesota. "Sinicization of the Manchurian Frontier: Village Self-organization and the Assertion of Han Customary Practice in the Northeast"

This paper examines relations between Han peasants and rusticated banner communities in the northeast in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, focusing on the sinicization of the countryside. In the 1660s, the Qing state established bannerlands and estates throughout the northeast and segregated rusticated banner and serf communities from the Han peasantry. Furthermore, it sought to protect the integrity of the bannerlands and estates by prohibiting commoner migration to the northeast and outlawing the exchange of land and labor between Han and non-Han. Despite this, by the mid nineteenth century Han were living among bannermen and serfs and most importantly they were exchanging land and labor. The paper explores sinicization as a process by which Han peasants asserted and generalized their own customary norms in the exchange of land and labor. The process of sinicization of the Qing frontiers has been understood as the 'natural' outgrowth of Malthusian pressures which pushed Han commoners into the hills and on to bordering plains. The unstoppable flood of migrants introduce Han cultural and social practices. The problem with this argument is that it tends to read 'outcomes' as causes. Given the Qing state's continued opposition to immigration and colonization of the northeast by Han peasants, 'sinicization' of the northeast was possible only insofar as rural communities could keep the state at arms length. The paper understands sinicization therefore as a political process in which rural communities actively struggled with the state over rights to land and labor.

Discussant: Enatsu Yoshiki, Hitotsubashi University


list of panels